Hamilton dominates Japan GP posted in F107 | 10 | 2018

    LEWIS HAMILTON CONTINUED domination of the second-half of the 2018 Formula 1 season with a crouching victory in Japanese Grand Prix. Hamilton led home a second successive Mercedes 1-2, ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while title rival Sebastian Vettel endured another miserable day in his Ferrari, fishing a distant sixth. (Related: Hamilton extends lead after Russia win)

    Hamilton’s win was his sixth in the last seven grands prix, his ninth victory of the season and the fourth time he was won at Suzuka in the last five years. It was also the 71st of his F1 career, and 50th with Mercedes. He now heads to the USAGP with a 67-point advantage knowing if he outscores Vettel by high points, he will claim his fifth world title.

    “I was having so much fun driving this track,” a clearly delighted Hamilton said afterwards. “I was really able to just embrace the moment and enjoy every single lap, every single corner and the feel of the car. (Related: Imprerious Hamilton dominates Singapore)

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    “Suzuka is such a unique circuit, you go down a hill into Turn 1, then up-hill, you go underneath the track – it’s one of my favourite circuits. The pace was really great and this is definitely the best weekend I’ve had here and the best feeling I’ve had here balance-wise. It was really lovely.

    “Everyone at the track and back home in the factories deserves a huge thank you for their continued efforts, they just continue to push and deliver, weekend after weekend. This result was really the best way to repay all their hard work.

    “There’s still 100 points available, so we have to try and focus and never be complacent. The team has done such an amazing job the last few weekends; we need to bring the same focus and performance and keep pushing.

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    “The harmony in the team and the performance of every single individual in the team is the best it’s ever been. But we’ve always got areas that we can improve on, collectively and for me personally, so we will keep pushing and keep raising the bar.”

    While Hamilton, who started from the 80th pole of his F1 career, was never headed in the race, Vettel clashed with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The incident spun the Ferrari and relegated Vettel to the back of the field.

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    It was the Dutchman’s second incident with a  Ferrari. While Hamilton and Bottas comfortably eased way at the front of the field, Verstappen locked up as he entered the final corner on the opening lap. He ran off track, bounced over the grass and kerb as he rejoined at the second part of the chicane.

    That placed him immediately in the path of Kimi Raikkonen, and the Red Bull made slight contact with the Finn’s Ferrari as he tried to pass Verstappen on the outside. Vettel took advantage and eased ahead of Raikkonen into fourth.

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    Stewards handed Verstappen a five-second penalty for the incident with Raikkonen, but on lap eight Vettel made an unwise bid to  sneak inside the Red Bull into the fast Spoon left-hander. But the German carried too much speed, slide wide and made light contact with the Red Bull. The contact  spun the Ferrari, and his challenge was over.

    Despite his time penalty, Verstappen continued to finish third, helped by Ferrari choosing to pit Raikkonen and then releasing him into traffic. The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who had started 15th, also jumped Raikkonen to finish fourth.

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    The remainder of the race saw Hamilton ease further away from Bottas and the field, though over the closing laps the Finn came under increasing pressure from Verstappen.

    Behind the two Mercedes and Red Bull cars, Raikkonen drifted further behind in fifth, with Vettel eventually finishing 18.8secs behind his Ferrari team-mate in sixth.

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    Sergio Perez finished seventh for Force India, essentially winning the ‘second class’ race, ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean. The second Force India of Esteban Ocon finished ninth. The final point-scorer was the Renault of Carlos Sainz.

    There was disappointment for Toro Rosso, which had seen its two drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley start sixth and seventh for engine supplier Honda's home grand prix. Gasly finished just outside the points in 11th, with his Kiwi team-mate 13th.

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    F1 — Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka (Result):

    1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 53 laps


    2. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport + 12.919s


    3. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing + 14.295s


    4. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Aston Martin Red Bull Racing + 19.495s


    5. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari + 50.998s


    6. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari + 69.873s


    7. Sergio Perez MEX Racing Point Force India F1 Team + 79.379s

    
8. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team + 87.198s

    
9. Esteban Ocon FRA Racing Point Force India F1 Team + 88.055s

    
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP  Renault Sport Formula One Team + 1 lap


    11. Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 1 lap

    
12. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team + 1 lap 


    13. Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 1 lap 


    14. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team + 1 lap 


    15. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team + 1 lap 


    16. Sergey Sirotkin RUS Williams Martini Racing + 1 lap 


    17. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing + 1 lap

    
Retired:

    Charles Leclerc MON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team 38 laps


    Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team 37 laps


    Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team 8 laps

    Related: Scot Sandy Mitchell bags third in Euro GT3 Silver Cup

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    Jim McGill

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